In the U.S., women are paid 82 cents on the dollar when compared to men. Wage inequity persists throughout all industries and regardless of educational level. One of the most significant legal remedies to closing the gender pay gap is the Equal Pay Act (EPA) of 1963.
An amendment to the Fair Standards Labor Act, the EPA protects individuals against wage discrimination based on their sex.
The EPA requires that men and women in the same workplace receive equal pay for equal work. “Equal pay” includes all forms of compensation and benefits. “Equal work” means jobs with equal skill, effort, and responsibility that are performed under similar working conditions. The jobs do not have to be identical, or even have the same title, but they must be “substantially equal.”
Employers may be exempt if their compensation system is based on seniority, merit, one that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production, or any factor other than sex.
Damages can be awarded for pay and overtime, but not pain and suffering.
A plaintiff often has an equal pay as well as a Title VII case, as both protect against sex discrimination. However, there are nuances between them, including the types of employers that can be sued, different timelines and damages. For instance, an individual alleging a violation of the EPA may go directly to court and is not required to file an EEOC charge beforehand.
Any individual who files an equal pay claim or assists an individual in filing one is protected against unlawful retaliation by their employer.